Madonna (entertainer),Strike a Pose

“Strike a Pose,” a documentary about the kids that taught the Madonna and the world to vogue

January 10, 2017
in Kids

"Strike a Pose," a documentary about the kids that taught the Madonna and the world to vogue “Strike a Pose” was an immortal line from Madonna’s hit song, “Vogue.” Now it is the name of a tender and touching documentary about the men who performed both onstage with Madonna on her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour and on screen in her 1991 documentary, “Truth or Dare.” The tour consisted of doing five shows (each two hours long) every week with one day of travel and one day of rest for an eight-month period. That’s more than 150 shows, each featuring 18 songs. Most of the dancers performed 15 of the 18 songs, and if they weren’t onstage for a number, they were changing for the next one. For “Strike a Pose,” six of the seven dancers — Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes, Salim Gauwloos, Kevin Stea, Carlton Wilborn and José Gutierez (Gabriel Trupin passed away) — were interviewed about their experiences of being plucked from obscurity to perform on a world stage. They speak eloquently and candidly in the film about “expressing themselves” while also projecting positive messages about homosexuality, gay rights and AIDS awareness. As “Strike a Pose” shows, however, some of the guys were keeping secrets. Salim, for example, reveals, decades later, that he was diagnosed as being HIV positive before the tour. “Strike a Pose” also chronicles the perils of fame and how being connected with the then-most famous woman on the planet became a blessing and a curse. For all the opportunities that the tour’s controversy and success generated, these men had problems personally and professionally that haunted them for the next 25 years. Salon talked with two of the six dancers featured in the film, Guiterez and Gauwloos, about their experiences being on tour with Madonna back in the day and about “Strike a Pose” now. José, Madonna took voguing from the underground to the mainstream. What can you say about the impact of that given the culture wars of the time and how you, as a performer, had to bear some of the responsibility of disseminating gay culture to a wider audience? It’s weird because you don’t think about that at that time you’re in it. I was an 18-year-old kid with talent and given the opportunity to express it. I didn’t look at the political aspect of it and that it was bringing something underground to the forefront. I never set out to be a part of it. Now that I am aware, it’s amazing. To see that now, so many years later and finally be — not just accepted, but for everyone to look at me for taking this to the world — I feel so blessed. It was harder to be openly gay back then. You were certainly a role model, even if you didn’t see yourself as one. Can you talk about that? It wasn’t easy to be gay back then. I was fortunate. I was into wearing pride as a shield because I was young and gay and it wasn’t as accepted as it is now — and that motivated me. It was hard for a lot of kids in the community. Back then there weren’t many role models. I never set out to be one. I was so young, and just believed in something. I was being comfortable with who I was at an early age. I made a difference and was counted as a part of society. To now be looked on as an icon or a pioneer, I’m grateful. It’s unbelievable. I never set out to do that. I wish I could say I did. Maybe Madonna saw it in me before I did. We were all [unexpected] leaders, pioneers in the age of the AIDS epidemic. I was really scared back in the day. But I still showed up and did public service announcements for Gay Men’s Health Crisis and raised money and protested. I was in it because my friends were sick from this disease and I looked up to them as heroes in the community. And if I could march and express myself, then I wanted to do that. That was the least I could do for my community. I really like the scenes featuring you and your mother and how she is supportive but also critical of your work. Madonna is seen as a motherly figure to her boys; there is also Gabriel’s mother featured in “Strike a Pose.” What observations do you have about gay men and mother figures? Being from where I’m from and from the Hispanic culture, we’re family...

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